Tuesday, 11 November 2014

I'm a Woman, Not a Man. Therefore, I'm not a Sir.

Whenever I receive an email at work that begins with the salutation, 'Dear Sirs,' I must admit that I leave it for a little longer than usual to reply. A woman who gets to be addressed as Sir, whether deliberately or not, reserves the right to let someone wait.

Number one: I'm not a Sir. When I'm addressed as a Sir whether in a formal letter or e-mail, I feel that it's equivalent to being mistaken for a man over the phone even when my name and voice are obviously feminine. And by the way, who are the other Sirs? Seated next to me is another woman.

Number two: It's sexist. And sweeping. What makes the sender think that a department in any business is run by men only?

Number three: It's politically incorrect. Nowadays when LGBTs can marry or enter a civil partnership in some countries, why am I, a woman, still hidden beneath a title reserved for a man?

Number four: It's not gender-neutral. An officer is. Their is, as opposed to his/her. A manager is. That's why I balk at women who insist on being addressed as manageress. 'Manager' doesn't make you feel less of a woman and neither does it turn you into a man. But 'Sir' does.

It's been a while since I last took a technical writing class, and although I've always been taught that a salutation must begin with a Sir/Madam if the gender of the recipient is unknown, I'm also aware of the old-school formal writing rule of addressing a department as 'Dear Sirs' even though I have always refused to do so. 

Of course I don't believe in the segregation of men and women, whether on a piece of paper or aboard public transportation, but I disagree that women should be collectively addressed as part of the menfolk. It's already a known fact that there's an imbalance in the take-home pay of men and women for doing the same job, that the least that can be served us in the work place is for our gender to be given credit at least when addressed.

Is that too much to ask for?

To acknowledge that I'm a woman. That I'm not a man. Therefore, I'm not a Sir?

Rant done. 

I got over myself and finally replied to the gentleman who emailed me regarding an enquiry. I just received a very polite message from him again. 

He addressed me as Miss.


  1. I think if you don't know the gender of the person you are addressing, a simple sir/madam is required, I learned that when I was little really. Loved this doll and I'm glad he replied back with Miss! ;-) xx

    1. I was beaming...I felt I won something. Hahahaha.

  2. Glad he replied to you with Miss! We were always taught to write Dear Sir or Madam when the gender and name was unknown. Generally everyone is less formal now but sometimes too familiar at times! Thank you for your comment. We returned to Dubai too and of course discovered new places. Looking forward to hearing about your trip.

  3. Yes, I totally get you on this one. I also feel upset when I am addressed as a man. I wonder in what decade some people got stuck...

  4. ha ha go girl and congratulations on getting the salutation you/we deserve. I've never been addressed as Sir, not that I can recall anyway, perhaps because of the business I'm in where it tends to be dominated by women. I'm often called Mrs and on some occasions Dr, but yes I think I'd get agitated if I received any type of correspondence that addressed me as Sir; I'd prefer ' To Whom It May Concern'. Anyway, have a good weekend xx

    1. I notice that some online forms only make you a 'Mrs' or a 'Sir'. Strange. I pointed that out once and I was just told to disregard it. But it bothers me. Haha. I guess it's one of those things that don't matter to most. I don't like corporate titles, but I just prefer to be addressed with the proper salutation x


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